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Ethical Language Meaningful


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Is ethical language meaningless? Discuss.

Ethical language is meaningless. The analysis of ethical language is called meta-ethics. Meta-ethics looks at the meaning of the language used in ethics and includes questions such as: are ethical claims capable of being true or false, or are they expressions of emotion? If true, is that truth only relative to some individual, society or culture. Meta-ethics is broken down into cognitive and non-cognitive theories. This shows that there are two contrasting opinions to whether ethical language is meaningless.

Cognitive theories of meta-ethics. Ethical naturalism is a cognitive theory of meta-ethics. Ethical naturalism or ethical cognitivism is the theory that moral values can be derived from sense experience. Ethical naturalism looks into cognitive and objective statements, it states ethical and non-ethical statements are the same, also that ethical statements can be verified and falsified. Criticisms of ethical naturalism – the naturalistic fallacy. The naturalistic fallacy is the claim that good cannot be defined. G.E. Moore argued against ethical naturalism and called the attempt to identify goodness with a natural quality a mistake. He uses the naturalistic fallacy to do this.

Intuitionism – G.E. Moore. Intuitionism is the theory that moral truths are known by intuition. Moore’s intuitionism is a cognitive theory itself. It states good is indefinable, there are objective moral truths and we know these moral truths by intuitionism.

Intuitionism – H.A. Pritchard. Pritchard develops the theory of Intuitionism. Pritchard’s intuitionism states obligations are as indefinable as good, intuition decides what to do in a situation and some people’s intuition is better developed than others.

Non-cognitive theories of meta-ethics. Emotivism is a non-cognitive theory of meta-ethics. Emotivism is the theory which says that moral

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